PopTherapy: Coping with Stress through Pop-Culture

Pablo Paredes, Ran Gilad-Bachrach, Mary Czerwinski, Asta Roseway, Kael Rowan, Javier Hernandez
Pervasive Computing (2014)


Stress is considered to be a modern day “global epidemic"; so given the widespread nature of this problem, it would be beneficial if solutions that help people to learn how to cope better with stress were scalable beyond what individual or group therapies can provide today. Therefore, in this work, we study the potential of smart-phones as a pervasive medium to provide "crowd therapy". The work melds two novel contributions: first, a micro- intervention authoring process that focuses on repurposing popular web applications as stress management interventions; and second, a machine-learning based intervention recommender system that learns how to match interventions to individuals and their temporal circumstances over time. After four weeks, participants in our user study reported higher self-awareness of stress, lower depression-related symptoms and having learned new simple ways to deal with stress. Furthermore, participants receiving the machine-learning recommendations without option to select different ones showed a tendency towards using more constructive coping behaviors.